This is such an incredible story!
Billionaire investor Robert Smith was at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA to receive an honorary doctorate and to give the commencement address, but in the middle of his speech, he made one of the greatest and kindest gestures we’ve ever seen. He announced that he would spend $40 million to pay off every student loan for every graduate, and his only request is for them to pay it forward.
“You have the power within to be great, be you, be unstoppable, be undeniable, and accomplish the things that people thought you never would,” states Smith.
He later added. “Treat all people with dignity, even if you can’t see how they’re gonna help you… This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
— Morehouse College (@Morehouse) May 20, 2019
The students went into a rousing celebration after Smith major keys announcement, some shouting “MVP.”
One student stated, “It was like a moment of disbelief, and then it went into tears, laughs, and hugs, and crying; it really is going to change the lives of many students.”
— José Mallabo (@JoseMallabo) May 19, 2019
“When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained,” Morehouse President David A. Thomas said Sunday. “(Smith’s gift) gives them the liberty to follow their dreams, their passions.”
According to recent Federal Reserve data, Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. Outstanding student loan debt exceeds auto loan debt ($1.1 trillion) and credit card debt ($977 billion). Students graduating from historic black colleges usually have about 30% more in federal student loan debt than other universities. For the nearly 400 graduates at Morehouse College, Sunday started their next challenge, and we’re glad to see that they will have a strong step forward.
Smith is the richest African American in the United States, with a net worth of $5 billion, according to Forbes. He’s the founder of the investment firm Vista Equity, which boasts capital commitments of $46 billion, according to its website. In 2019, Smith was #355 on the Forbes Billionaires List.